Oak Brook students take foreign language online
Principal Stephanie Palmer looks on while sixth-graders Zach Griffin (clockwise from left), Nader and Mujtaba, and Cade Griffith spend a class period with an online foreign language program at Butler Junior High. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2012 2:06PM
OAK BROOK — Online learning has taken on a new twist for a half-dozen students at Butler Junior High.
As part of the school’s elective program, students are able to take one of five foreign languages in an online offering of Illinois Virtual School, an Illinois State Board of Education managed program.
Spanish is the only foreign language offered in a traditional classroom setting at Butler; however, students must start the program while in the sixth grade to be included. Along with Spanish for transfer or late-starting students, the online foreign language program includes French, German, Latin and Mandarin.
“We do have students who would like to take some other language, and having Spanish available online allows students who transfer into our school to still have the opportunity to take that language,” said Principal Stephanie Palmer. “This program allows students to have an enrichment experience.”
Six students are taking foreign languages classes through the program: two in German and one each taking Mandarin, Latin, French and Spanish. Students spend one 42-minute period each school day online in the Butler Junior High library. They also do work online at home.
“It’s a real class online,” Palmer said. “They have an actual teacher and get emails from the teacher if they fall behind. Online classes are much more interactive than they used to be.”
Twin brothers Zach and Cade Griffith are sixth-graders who both are taking German online because they have family in Austria.
“This was confusing at first, but it’s not after you get used to it,” Cade said. “It’s kind of like being in a classroom; it’s really not that different.”
Sixth-grader Nader Mujtaba is taking French online. His mother is a French teacher.
“I’m taking French so we can talk together,” he said. “I like it better than Spanish. At first, this was hard, but you get used to it.”
Palmer said success of the online foreign language program will be reviewed this year.
“I think this program provides some great opportunities for some of our students,” she said. “But I don’t see it really getting much bigger, in terms of the number of students doing it, in the future.”